Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal; Novak Djokovic v Bautista Agut; Wimbledon SF Picks And Pans
by Sean Randall | July 11th, 2019, 12:42 pm

About the only surprise of this year’s Wimbledon men’s event was there were no real surprises. The young stars continue to run hot and cold, the middle generation is still lost which leaves the Big 3 pack with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. And since Andy Murray is off the singles circuit for now and there’s, by definition, a fourth spot in a semifinal, Roberto Bautista Agut gets the last slot. Otherwise, the first 10 days of these events are effectively meaningless.

So, what is going to happen? To the matches and my picks.

Novak Djokovic v Roberto Bautista Agut
With two wins already over Novak Djokovic this year, you know the Serb will have his guard up against Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard has quietly been a very decent grass court player through his carer. The slick surface really takes to his low bouncing flat shots. He’s fit and quick, has a solid serve and has that belief with those wins over Novak.

But Djokovic is the man of experience at this stage. Bautista Agut is in his first Grand Slam semifinal while Djokovic is back in his 36th and 9th at Wimbledon.

The fact he does have wins over Novak is a huge boon, but will it be enough over best-of-5? That’s a whole different animal, and Bautista Agut is 0-3 against Novak in Slams.

And in this match-up, there is nothing RBA does better than Djokovic. About the only thing that can happen is Djokovic has an off day and falls apart, which you can’t dismiss. I just don’t see it here.

RBA gets a set, gets the crowd involved, but not much more.
The Pick: Djokovic in 4

Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal
I picked these two to get out to the semifinals at the start. And I picked Nadal to beat Federer. After watching them progress, I’m sticking with Rafa.

The courts appear to be playing slow, the roof will be open and with Rafa seemingly in full flight, that should spell trouble for Roger.

Obviously the gameplan for Rafa is simple: Serve well, attack the backhand, force Federer into bad shots.

For Federer: Pound the serve, crack the forehand, attack the net, attack the second serve, and keep points short.

Based on that, Rafa’s plan is his usual routine while Federer is going to have to be hitting very high levels with his serve and forehand because his backhand is going to be under fire.

Both guys are playing really well. Nadal leads 24-15 and had lost five straight to Roger until that French semifinal. And while that’s a totally different match, that win will be a big lift to his confidence against Roger.

Federer now grass is not Rafa’s best surface and he’s had all those puzzling losses to guys like Brown, Rosol, etc., so there’s his hope. But Roger doesn’t have to monster serve, so he’ll have to place his especially well.

So again, on grass it comes down to margins. Rafa has a high margin with his game. Federer’s is very low and I think that catches up to him.

The good news is the weather will be much better Friday than the nasty conditions they played in back in Paris. And that will help Federer and keep things close. But in the end, with the roof open…
The Pick: Nadal in 5

My big takeway from the semifinals it that’s it’s crazy these three are still so dominant. Twelve years after they first made the Wimbledon semifinals together, here they are again…

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35 Comments for Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal; Novak Djokovic v Bautista Agut; Wimbledon SF Picks And Pans

Nits Says:

Agree with your predictions

Daniel Says:

Eventually another player outside the big 3 will win Wimbledon. Since 2003 all tourney were qon hy them plus 2 Murray.

We just don’t know when?

Agree ref Djoko but still think Fed gets this one in 4.
1 st crucial for Fed. Apart frim RG Nadla had lost 7 straight sets to Fed on hard. If Fed gest the 1st he might start second guessing and he hasn’t lost 1set inthis tourney so far. While Fed lost in 2 of his 5 matches and was compose and increased his level after.

RZ Says:

Tourneytopia has been so slow to update the bracket for this tournament. Still no “What If” scenarios posted based on the final 4.

Kimberly Says:

I know it has been we keep checking the bracket site.

two the pros in my club picked Nadal and Djokovic to lose early so they have been hovering the bottom. My bracket’s fate is tied to Rafa in this one.

Freddy Says:

Courts are so slow Nadal even has a chance against joker on this green clay. What a joke.

skeezer Says:

Thanks for posting that link. Have been commenting on this every year. It is what made Grass unique. The ball bounced low, the slice was a hard shot to hit as the ball doesn’t come up. The serve….. mattered. Now you might as well make it Clay and paint it green. Imo this is why Djoker and Nadal have had so much success.

Dave Says:

Here is the history of Federer vs Nadal in best of 5 set matches not on clay.

They are 4 and 4.

Federer won 3 of those 4 matches in 5 sets. The other in 4 sets.

One of those 4 wins was not at a major. Federer won in 5 sets in Miami.

Nadal won 2 of those 4 in 5 sets. One in 4 sets and one in 3 sets.

All 4 wins for Nadal were in Majors.

My pick for this match is Nadal in 4 sets. My other pick is Djokovic in 4 sets. Both could easily go 5 sets, but I would still pick Nadal and Djokovic in both those matches if they go 5.

Madmax Says:

Daniel…seems Federer is the underdog which is really surprising to me but no matter. I’m sticking with Federer in 4 sets. I think it will be a fantastic match to be celebrated by us all. I really do mean that. 2 absolute giants of the game and we are watching them, before our very eyes. I can’t believe it to be honest. 11 years on and still feeling the adrenaline running through my veins, the absolute sheer passion that both Roger and Raga bring to their matches and their infinite love for tennis.

Are we lucky guys; or are we lucky?

Now; one would hope we can keep this civil win or lose but sadly we know those who wish to spoil this great event. Rafa is the favourite in every print media story I’ve read. But this is Rogers playground.

Come on Roger. Time to play your best tennis on grass tomorrow. I wish you the best you beauty!

Madmax Says:

One more thing, I’ve not seen federer this calm and composed for a very long time. He seems happy, relaxed and as you said Daniel he is peaking and tweaking his game to perfection. I really hope it all comes together for Federer tomorrow. So so excited!

Madmax Says:

Another point, this is a really calm and composed Roger. He is in the zone and totally switched on and zoomed into all of his matches. Never moreso than the one tomorrow! I don’t think he has really wobbled as much as he has in the past wimbledon matches played – knowing by his own admission – he doesn’t know how many more years he has left on tour. We all hope for at least until aged 40 and Why not?

Tomorrow will be the most important match for Roger – match of his life, his career, knowing how much Wimbledon means to him. He has to beat Nadal.

So with this in mind, It has to be attacking tennis from the get go. We talked about Kei’s speed on court yesterday but we often forget just how nimble roger is on his feet. He is playing better than ever.

RZ Says:

I went ahead and ran the scenarios myself. Here are the winners based on the various final scenarios. It will come down to AM/Farah (winning in 5 possible scenarios), Nithish (winning in 2 possible scenarios) and Dave (1 scenario). All scenarios are below.

Djokovic def. Federer – Farah (AM) wins
Federer def. Djokovic – Nithish wins
Djokovic def. Nadal – Dave wins (and successfully defends his Wimbledon bracket champion title)
Nadal def. Djokovic – AM wins
Nadal def. Bautista-Agut – AM wins
Bautista-Agut def. Nadal – AM wins
Bautista-Agut def. Federer – Farah (AM) wins
Federer def. Bautista-Agut – Nithish wins

skeezer Says:

Who would you pick if tomorrows match was on Clay? Exactly,
If this was on the old Grass OR on any other surface that was fast. Fed in 3.
Rafa cannot hit a ball properly when the court is fast. He needs time to hit the ball. This includes the surface and the higher bounce ( hence more time to hit the ball ). The more time he has, the more deadly he is plain and simple.

Dave Says:

The problem with that Skeezer is that Federer has literally never beaten Nadal in straight sets in a best of 5 set match. Ever. Not even 2006 Wimbledon, when Rafa wasn’t even close to the player he is now and the grass was faster than today. So the odds of Federer winning in straights are very low even in the scenerio you are giving.

SG1 Says:

Federer’s a lot more willing to shorten the points than he was in 2006 or 2008 and I think that’s going to help him because he was basically playing Rafa’s game. So hard to know how this unfolds. I just have this feeling Federer’s going to get this figured out. But even if he wins, I think he still loses to Novak in the final. Same for Rafa. I think everyone’s playing for 2nd place except the Djoker.

Dave Says:

Being totally honest. If Djokovic wins first, I would want Federer to win, even though I think Rafa will win. I think Federer would be easier at this point in the final for Djokovic to beat. And I have the same mentality as Rafa when it comes to that. Like he said: Why would I want to play Kyrgios, or Roger or Novak? I’m not sure exactly how he has said it. He has said it more than once in the past that what he cares about is winning and feeling good on the court. And he would rather have it easier if he has the option, than to play the most difficult players in the world.

skeezer Says:

the Grass surface changed in 2002:
That said, Fed literally won all his Wimpy titles on the slower stuff, so kudos to him. If they kept it pre 2002, I would bet my house Fed would beat him in 3 straights, many times. Unfortunately, the surface has gone the way of the slow courter, and Djoker/Nadal are the ones that have benefitted the most from that.
Djoker is a shoo in here in my opinion, the way things have unfolded, and if he doesn’t win it would be one of the biggest misses in GS lore.

Dave Says:


You have some good points. Actually I am watching the 2008 match right now. And the difference once the ball hit from 2003 to 2008 was a huge difference. 9 mph slower in 2008 compared to 2003. I think they were showing the serve. 52 mph after the bounce and 43 mph after the bounce in 2008. It’s only my opinion. But even if it was 2002 fast, I still feel Nadal based on fighting for every point and how good he looks on the grass this year and last year, would be able to gut out a set.

skeezer Says:

One more thing before tomorrow. For the glimmer of hope it would be , if Agut happens by we chance to win, it should turn Fedal match into an all out no hold bar go for it war, as both would know if they can now win over the other their path to GS glory would be a for sure one.
One thing to look for if the impossible happens in the first match.

Dave Says:

I actually think if that were to happen, I would actually boost Federer’s chances of winning.

Patson Says:

I believe either Federer or Nadal will be listening to this on Sunday evening:

skeezer Says:

Fed fans;
ESPYS – Roger Federer was awarded Best Male Tennis Player for a record 9th time
Congrats Fed!

Michael Says:

It is true that Rafael is on a roll exhibiting brutal and ruthless form so far in the tournament. His intensity and hunger for every point is amazing. He is a beast on court confronting a charming and elegant magician named Roger. If the match goes the distance then seemingly, Rafa has the edge. But ultimately it will boil down to a combination of factors that will come into play like first serve percentage, big points, better strike rate on achieving good margins and above all, confidence. Roger is 38 and nothing to lose. He can go all out against Rafa and have a swing like at the Australian open and if the day belongs to him with favourable turnaround of circumstances, he can win. But still Rafa holds an edge in this match and it is on his racquet to win or lose. Roger must be hoping for a dip in Rafa’s form and becoming a victim of peaking early.

Michael Says:

Although Roger has a fair chance to beat Rafa, the recent French open belt down can play spoilsport. Roger might lose this match even before he enters the Court overawed by the effort needed to stave of the challenge posed by Rafa. The only player who can play Rafa on his terms is Novak and their H2H betrays it. He definitely holds the edge against Rafa on other surfaces barring Clay.

chrisford1 Says:

ot getting down on Fed so much as the stupidity of these awards:

“Fed fans;
ESPYS – Roger Federer was awarded Best Male Tennis Player for a record 9th time
Congrats Fed!”

Roger has spent 8 weeks at #1 since 2012. Yet he is the best tennis player by “ESPY” votes the last 3 years.

j-kath Says:

The one niggle that is being faced by Rafa this year at Wimbledon is a tighter regime re. “time taken to serve”. It puts extra pressure on him to avoid time penalties and does occasionally affect the power of his first serve. Quite possibly Roger has noted this and sees it as a potential advantage.

Although it is not so relevant to Novak, he too is sometimes on the edge of taking too long bouncing the ball.

Madmax Says:

You raise a good point J-Kath, but why is it that any time violations are more ‘enforceable at Wimbledon and not other tournaments do you think? We know that Wimbledon has a tight regime, but as it is in the rule book, it should apply to every player, in all tournaments.

As a fun fact, I wonder what the statistics are for all players at the tournament this year. I can’t say I have noticed any time violations this year, so don’t think that Rafa stands out in this area just now.

Madmax Says:

Federer quite simply, has to play attacking tennis and do what he has been doing this week, playing at an awesomely high level. I have been watching a string of his shots – he is so bloody nimble guys, and some of you do underestimate his speed on court – we think that hearing a grunt from Rafa counts for aggression and will to win and beast like qualities, but lets not forget the sound of ”C’mon! at 180 decibels from Roger, it is at that point, we know he is passionate. He has spent less time on court than Rafa, by about an hour, I think – so not much between them. He seemed relaxed in his practise sessions with Llodra.

Just can’t wait for the match to happen guys.

RZ Says:

I disagree J-Kath. Rafa was taking his sweet time against Kyrgios and never got a time warning. It’s why NK started complaining to the chair ump.

j-kath Says:

Madmax: There has been a couple of cautions….but can’t remember who they were – there’s also been a number of occasions when the camera features on the Umpire when a player is on the cusp of a “time violation”. I don’t think the question is “Why does Wimbledon enforce the rules?” – rather, “Why are other tournaments somewhat relaxed on the issue.”

Madmax Says:


I thought that was what I said? Let’s see what happens in 20 minutes from now Either way, we have waited a long time for this match!

Madmax Says:


Roger was a lot chunkier in 2008, he is much fitter and by definition, he has worked hard on his physique and so I don’t think we can compare matches in 2008 between these guys to now. What do you say? A different skill set.

j-kath Says:

RZ: I didn’t say Rafa got the cautions – have another wee read at what I said.

Madmax Says:

One on the board.

Come on Fed! Only downside is Castle commentating.

Hey Jatin, you around?

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